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Jayson Werth and Davey Johnson dump on Jim Riggleman

Aug 27, 2012, 4:30 PM EST

Jim Riggleman Reuters

Bill Ladson of MLB.com has a story up about how the Nationals have a new offensive identity this year. The crux of it: Davey Johnson — unlike seemingly every broadcaster you’ve ever heard — is NOT a fan of his hitters always trying to take the ball the other way. Rather, he wants his hitters to pull the ball if they get busted inside rather than seek out those “good piece of hitting” pats on the head.

But in saying so, he quite clearly criticized his predecessor, Jim Riggleman, for emphasizing that approach, noting that it’s not his philosophy, nor is it the philosophy of Rick Eckstein, the hitting coach under both of them:

 “I think the regime before liked everybody to go the other way. We really couldn’t handle fastballs [inside]. We didn’t hit the ball where it was pitched. We have the talent to hit the ball where it was pitched, but we were a little defensive. … We had the book on us. … ‘Pound them in with hard stuff,’ and we weren’t able to do much.”

If it’s a bit unusual for a manager to directly reference “the regime before” in such matters, it’s extremely uncommon for a player to slag on his last manager by name like Jayson Werth does later in the article:

“Between last year and this year, it’s night and day,” Werth said. “Just the whole atmosphere in the clubhouse. You have an iconic manager that really knows how to handle this team. If we still had a guy like Riggleman as the manager, I don’t think the team is where it’s at.”

Wow.

Of course, players have been super positive things about Davey Johnson for his whole career and the results speak for themselves, yet he has been run out of town a number of times. It’s almost as if he sometimes has run-ins with the front office or something.

  1. sfm073 - Aug 27, 2012 at 4:47 PM

    I have a hard time believing that someone taught major league players to go oppo on every single pitch.

    • rooney24 - Aug 28, 2012 at 10:17 AM

      The Twins used to preach that endlessly in the 90’s and early 00’s. I still feel the reason they gave up on David Ortiz is because he struggled with that approach. Some guys can hit it where it is pitched. Some hitters (especially power hitters) just need to be left alone to slug the ball.

  2. timmons94 - Aug 27, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    For a guy robbing the nationals of 126 mill to be average. U would think werth less would stfu and keep quiet

    • 18thstreet - Aug 27, 2012 at 7:38 PM

      Robbing? Did the Lerners have a gun to their head when they signed the contract?

      I’d argue the Lerners are robbing … uh … I got nothing. But free agent players are worth whatever the market says they’re worth. It shows the rest of them are underpaid.

  3. yahmule - Aug 27, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    At least Davey Johnson never tried to force management into a contract extension after a modest winning streak. Way to overplay a weak hand and get blackballed for your trouble, Rigglegoof.

  4. jimtron11 - Aug 27, 2012 at 5:03 PM

    Leave it to Jayson Werth (whose parents didn’t even know to to spell his name), to exhibit the tact of a buffon while ripping a reasonably well-respected, long-time baseball man like Jim Riggleman for no apparent reason. Werth had a terrible year in 2011 and has contributed 3.2 WAR (the same as Reed Johnson over the same duration), since signing that ludicrous seven-year, $126-million deal with the Nationals before last year. Werth’s grasping at straws here, hoping Nats fans will believe that, of all people, Riggs is to blame for the sharp decline in his productivity at the plate. As for Davey Johnson’s ‘pull happy’ approach being responsible for Werth’s supposed resergence? Rick Ankiel, released by Washington in mid-July, still managed more homers (5) in fewer PAs (171) than Werth (3 in 202), so perhaps Davey’s philosophy isn’t working as much magic as Werth believes.

  5. delawarephilliesfan - Aug 27, 2012 at 5:04 PM

    At least Werth didn’t drop 2 F-bombs at Riggleman, like he did to this fan:

    He refused to apologize when asked the next day, despite the fact the inning ended on the next pitch, and the Phillies won in the bottom of that inning.

  6. royhobbs39 - Aug 27, 2012 at 5:10 PM

    Wasn’t Davey supposed to be a temporary fill-in after that Riggleman mess? I feel as if they convinced him to come out of retirement. Am I remembering this wrong?

    Now he’s yelling at his GM in front of reporters, taking his team to the playoffs, and bringing out Werth’s value. Okay, maybe I made up that last part.

  7. beefytrout - Aug 27, 2012 at 5:11 PM

    I’m pretty sure the atmosphere in the clubhouse has been what it is because the Nats are playing winning baseball, in large part due to the fact that they’ve had 4 starters pitch great this year (and that the assumed division leader, the phillies, have been mired in last place).

  8. liverpoolred04 - Aug 27, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    Sounds like Hussein Obama

    • nullstadt - Aug 27, 2012 at 6:49 PM

      You are an idiot.

      • 18thstreet - Aug 27, 2012 at 8:00 PM

        Can someone who gave thumbs up to “sounds like Obama” explain why?

  9. kevinleaptrot - Aug 27, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    I seem to recall that Werth had some cryptically negative comments re Riggleman last season after he’d quit. Not sure how “well respected” Riggleman is in baseball, but there doesn’t seem to be a line forming to hire him in the bigs now that he’s available. But going by the results I would say that he’s done the Nats a huge favor and Davey’s done a heck of a job getting the team to this point so far. There’s been a huge improvement in the offense this year, especially the 2nd half of the season. Magical times at Nats Park for sure.

    • frenchysplatediscipline - Aug 27, 2012 at 5:32 PM

      I would imagine that one of the reasons they aren’t lining up for his services is because no one wants to employ a leader who quits (IN MID SEASON!) when he doesn’t get the extension he is looking for.

  10. frenchysplatediscipline - Aug 27, 2012 at 5:31 PM

    It’s probably nice for the players not to have to see their manager use a double switch in EVERY game too…

    Riggleman was king of the double switch.

  11. xmatt0926x - Aug 27, 2012 at 6:51 PM

    I’ve seen many Werth interviews over the past several seasons and have always come away feeling he is as dumb as a bag of rocks( and I might be insulting the bag of rocks). Based on that I don’t put much value in his opinion,especially when he had such a lousy season when he was the main player for the Nats last year. This year he is in the spot he needs to be which is a complimentary player amongst real stars like Morse and Zimmerman, who can actually carry the team with pressure on them.

  12. xmatt0926x - Aug 27, 2012 at 6:54 PM

    One more thing. I agree totally with Beefytrouts point. I would imagine that many clubhouses atmosphere would improve when you are in 1st place with a chance to win 100 games as opposed to losing on a nightly basis.

  13. pranddcsportfan - Aug 28, 2012 at 9:38 AM

    These comments sound to me to keep covering for the bad hitting coach job we’ve gotten from Eckstein. The teams offense sucked for years and outside of two months it has kept sucking. Our catchers offense is awful, we have the leader in stikeouts in the NL maybe the majors and barely one over .300 hitter which is Werth mostly because he was out two months. I will give Werth the credit for making the attitude in the clubhouse better since he joined and for a losing team like we were his contract was the price to pay but don’t criticize the previous regime batting philosophy when if they had the pitching they had Riggleman’s hitting philosophy could have done the same. Our offense so far is worst vs opponents best pitchers than our pitchers are better than other teams offense. I’ve watche every game and this team is winning because of pitching, defense and never-give-up attitude. Offense is not better.

  14. rooney24 - Aug 28, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    I don’t get everyone that rips Jayson Werth for his contract. I think it is short sighted. The reason that I say that is because Werth’s contract is about more than just him. His contract was the Nationals saying “We are going to be players in the market”. Werth may be overpaid for his production on the field. But, I feel that the fact they stepped up and signed him for big money really put them on the map for other free agent players and for other players in their system not to want out. It was the type of change to culture that they needed through their organization. That culture change is part of what has gotten them to where they are today. For that reason, I don’t consider Werth overpaid.

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